“I’m cooking like a turkey on Christmas day,” I muttered, looking in vain for any scrap of shade on this scrubby land at the side of the road. “I’m a hot chicken too, Mummy,” whined Hannah, burying her head into my leg. Meanwhile Cameron pushed his entire body under the buggy in an effort to find some shade for himself. It wasn’t even but it was over thirty degrees as the heat wave in
At Tourist Information in
The Dorpat Spa hotel was one of the city’s newest, a huge building with over a hundred bedrooms, set on the river. At the desk, I informed the receptionist we’d like the room that Tourist Information had phoned about; the family room. After ten minutes of form filling, we were in a position to take the key. “But I need to inform you there is no air conditioning,” she said.
The family room was actually a family suite. A spacious corner suite overlooked the river, with panoramic windows, and huge plasma screen TV, a bath, his and hers sinks and all the coffee making perks that the
Three happy meals later and we had three happy children. We were happier too, bathing in the cool air conditioned air. But the sky wasn’t happy. It was dark and fierce, giving the impression that night had already fallen. Then something caught my eye, it was a road sign careering down the street. It was followed by a swell; a massive scary looking swell that was heading straight towards the restaurant. Were we messing with a McFlurry as a hurricane blasted towards us? “Oh Mum, it’s weird out there,” said Cameron, who had caught sight of the situation. The McDonalds steel umbrella stands began to leer towards the windows, and metal chairs started to fly around like Mary Poppins had popped by to tidy up. The swell that was making its way down the street burst into the junction; it was not the eye of a storm but a massive cloud of dust that had been carried down the high street. Now dust was everywhere and the wind was trying to fly people around too as they attempted to head for shelter. The rain followed, drenching anyone still brave enough to be out. Thunder and lightening flashed and suddenly we were in the middle of an electric storm. It occurred to each of us that if we had camped, our tent would have stood no chance.
Everything was calm in our family suite. The children went to sleep immediately and there was no hum of air conditioning to spoil the slumbering silence; or the extraordinary show from our panoramic windows. From our high position, we could see miles of countryside, lit up like silver as the sky was torn apart by bolts of lightening. As the lightening came from so many places, it seemed there were simultaneous storms at every part of the compass.
The following morning, the city showed few sighs of the storm. Just twigs and branches scattered around, a few road signs where they shouldn’t be. But the countryside was ravaged. It took a while for us to realise the extent of the destruction. Villages left without electricity, local shops closed. Electricity and telecommunication cables lining the grass at the side of houses. And hundreds and hundreds of trees, uprooted and felled, snapped in the middle like twigs or leaning at a perilous angle in their dozens. “It’s domino valley,” said Matthew in awe, as we cycled past endless trucks heading out to assess the damage. At a small village, we stood in front of an ancient church. Despite its longevity the side of it had crumbled in the destruction. A local cyclist stood with us. “Everyone in the village is frightened because there is no electricity. And my phone
still can’t get a signal.” He took out his mobile and gave it a shake. “They’re saying that this was possibly the biggest storm